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A SECOND CASE of Covid-19 has now been confirmed in the Republic of Ireland.

The Department of Health said a female in the east of the country has contracted the illness. She recently returned to Ireland from an affected area in northern Italy, but authorities would not give an exact timeframe.

The first case of Covid-19, an unrelated case involving a male in the east of the country, was confirmed on Saturday night.

As of yesterday, a total of 397 people have been tested for Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland, the department said.

There are now more than 90,000 reported cases of Covid-19 globally, with over 3,100 deaths.

That’s all from us this evening. 

The take-home message tonight is not to be alarmed and that you have a low chance of contracting the virus. 

Some extra points from tonight’s meeting:

  • The HSE said it is working to identify any “contacts the woman may have had” but that this process is at an early stage. 
  • As of yesterday, a total of 397 people have been tested for Covid-19
  • Avoidance of non-essential travel to four northern provinces of Italy is now recommended
  • Tony Holohan said if more cases emerge here, the main concern is for vulnerable people such as the elderly and people with disabilities

The Department of Health won’t comment on the male at centre of the first case and his condition. 

Dr Tony Holohan said more isolated cases are expected to be imported into Ireland, but that there is “no evidence of local transmission here”.

He added: “We don’t think it’s likely (there are more than two cases here).”

Dr John Cuddihy, Director of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, said the female in question has been interviewed as part of the process to trace people she came into contact with.

He said this process is at an early stage as the group only found out about the case this evening.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said if more cases emerge here, the main concern is for vulnerable people such as the elderly and people with disabilities.

Breaking news: The Department of Health has confirmed that a second case of the virus has been detected in the Republic of Ireland. 

ICTU has called on employers to pay employees as normal if they are directed to self-isolate because of Covid-19.

ICTU General Secretary Patricia King has written to the Chief Executive of Ibec, Danny McCoy, amid growing concerns among workers.

The letter states: “In recent days there has been considerable public debate on the precise implications for workers who are affected in any way by the current Public Health requirements. It is our view that in circumstances where an employee contracts this virus the normal condition for sick leave applies.

“In cases of enforced absences i.e., where there is direction and/or medical advice for an employee to self-isolate, then normal pay should continue to be paid. This should also apply where an employee self-isolates in accordance with the up-to-date guidance of the HSE.”

We’re about 40 minutes away from the latest update from the Department of Health. 

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Dr, Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr John Cuddihy, Director of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, will all be in attendance. 

As part of international St Patrick’s Day festivities, Minister for Education Joe McHugh was due to travel to Canada but made the decision at the weekend to stay home to deal with the Covid-19 situation.

Minister for Health Simon Harris is also remaining in Ireland.

Our political correspondent Christina Finn has the latest information about where ministers are going here.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have said they will adopt a “virtual format” for upcoming meetings instead of convening in person in Washington DC in the US.

Around 10,000 people were expected to attend the institutions’ Spring Meetings, scheduled for 17-19 April, at their headquarters.

In a joint statement issued this evening, Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the IMF, and David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group, stated:

“Like everyone else around the world, we have been deeply concerned by the evolving situation of the Coronavirus and the human tragedy surrounding it. Given growing health concerns related to the virus, the Management of the IMF and World Bank Group and their Executive Boards have agreed to implement a joint plan to adapt the 2020 IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings to a virtual format. Our goal is to serve our membership effectively while ensuring the health and safety of Spring Meetings participants and staff.

“We remain fully committed to maintaining a productive dialogue with our stakeholders and will leverage our IT-related and virtual connection capabilities to the fullest to hold our essential policy consultations with the membership. We will also continue to share IMF and World Bank analyses. With this adapted format, we are confident that our member countries will be able to effectively engage on pressing global economic issues at these Spring Meetings.”

The Department of Health has informed us that the press briefing on Covid-19 will now take place at 8.45pm instead of 7pm. 

President of the Irish College of General Practitioners, Dr Mary Favier, advised the public to remain calm.

She said the college has been closely monitoring the situation regarding Covid-19 for the last number of weeks.

She said: “We are in an ever-changing situation but the most important thing is to keep it in perspective and not to be alarmed. It is still more likely that anyone with flu-like symptoms has the winter flu and not Covid-19.”

The Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) has this evening released a statement and said the chance of an Irish person being infected with Covid-19 is still low. 

However, the group added that anyone showing symptoms should avoid their local GP surgeries. 

The ICGP explained that most cold or flu-like symptoms are common viruses including winter flu which is still circulating.

In a press briefing at the Department of Health this evening, chief medical officer Dr Holohan will provide the latest update on Covid-19 in Ireland.

TheJournal.ie reporter Seán Murray will be there to hear the newest developments, and you can follow his updates on Twitter @Seanmjourno.

Meanwhile, RTÉ is reporting that there is still just one confirmed case of the coronavirus in Ireland but over 300 people have been tested. Last week, only 90 people had been tested.

Google has asked the majority of its workforce (excluding its Sandyford and Eastpoint offices and its data centres) to work from home for a second day tomorrow.

In response response to a query from TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson from Google said no new press statement would be issued this evening. 

Yesterday, Google asked the majority of its 8,000 employees to work from home after a staff member reported flu-like symptoms amid growing concerns about the spread of Covid-19.

The person who is sick has not been diagnosed with Covid-19.

Employees who were in close contact with the person in question have been told to work from home and to monitor their health until there is greater clarity into whether they are at any risk.

Yesterday’s story can be read in full here.

The Department of Social Protection yesterday issued advice for workers who are diagnosed with the Covid-19 coronavirus and those who may need to self-isolate as a precautionary measure. 

Advice for people who are diagnosed with Covid-19

The Department said where an employee is diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus, normal workplace arrangements in respect of sick-absence should apply. 

The employe should, subject to the latest advice from the HSE, be treated from a workplace perspective in the same manner as any member of staff who takes sick-leave for any other reason, the Department said. 

Employees diagnosed with Covid-19 can, as is the case of any other illness, apply for income support from the Department of Social Protection in the form of illness benefit based on social insurance contributions or supplementary welfare allowance based on a means test. 

People who are not diagnosed with Covid-19 but who self-isolate

An employee who is advised or directed by a registered medical practitioner to self-isolate on the basis that they are a probable source of Covid-19 infection can, if their employer ceases to pay their wages, apply for income support from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

A person who self-isolates in accordance with the up-to-date guidelines from the HSE but does not have a medical certificate from a medical practitioner, may apply for an income support in the form of supplementary welfare allowance.

People who are requested to stay at home by their employer

Anyone who is not advised to self-isolate in accordance with the up-to-date guidelines of the HSE, but is requested to stay at home by their employer as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19 can, in situations where the employer cannot continue to pay their wages, apply for income support in the form of a jobseeker payment or supplementary welfare allowance. 

Advice for other circumstances can be found in our full report here

As of today, there are currently 74 countries around the world with confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus. 

health-coronavirus Source: PA Graphics

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Northern Ireland has around 100 critical beds ready for its response to the Covid-19 coronavirus. 

Miriam McCarthy, a director at the Health and Social Care Board, confirmed this afternoon that critical care beds had been prepared.

A patient with the virus being treated in a single room will experience “negative pressure”, where air is sucked back into the room rather than mixing with other areas where some patients may have compromised immune systems.

“We are working to ensure that we protect the critical care capacity for the sickest people,” she said. 

“We have about 100 beds in Northern Ireland for adults and children. We may need every bit of that capacity to deal with people infected by the virus.”

She said officials are trying to expand the number of critical care beds available but most would not need the facility.

She said acute care beds are already under pressure.

embedded250808977 Michael McBride Source: Michael McHugh via PA Images

NI chief medical officer Michael McBride also said that non-urgent services may have to be stood down during a peak of infection which could last weeks to months.

The aim is to “flatten” the main community transmission period and medical staff are in a phase of containing Covid-19.

Dr Ghebreyesus has said that WHO has shipped nearly half a million sets of personal protective equipment to 27 countries, but warned that “supplies are rapidly depleting”. 

WHO estimates that each month 89 million medical masks will be required for the Covid-19 response, along with 75 million examination gloves and 1.5 million goggles. 

“We need to call on manufacturers to urgently increase production to meet this demand and guarantee supplies,” Dr Ghebreyesus said. 

Dr Ghebreyesus highlighted that there are some important differences between Covid-19 and the influenza. 

First, Covid-19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza. 

“With influenza, people who are infected but not yet sick are major drivers of transmission, which does not appear to be the case for COVID-19,” he said. 

The second major difference is that Covid-19 causes more severe disease than seasonal influenza.

“While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, Covid-19 is a new coronavirus to which no one has immunity,” Dr Ghebreyesus said. 

Third, he noted that there are vaccines and therapeutics for the seasonal flu, but at the moment there is no vaccine or specific treatment for Covid-19. 

“However, clinical trials of therapeutics are now being done and more than 20 vaccines are in development,” he said. 

Finally, Dr Ghebreyesus said “we don’t even talk about containment for seasonal flu, it’s just not possible”. 

“But it is possible for Covid-19. We don’t bother with contact tracing for seasonal flu, but countries should do it for Covid-19 because it will prevent infections and save lives,” he said. 

Dr Ghebreyesus said that the WHO “understands that people are afraid and uncertain”. 

“Fear is a natural human response to any threat, especially when it’s a threat we don’t completely understand,” he said. 

“But as we get more data, we are understanding this coronavirus and the disease it cases, more and more.” 

World Health Organization

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is currently briefing the media on the World Health Organization’s latest updates in relation to Covid-19. 

There are now a total of 90,893 reported cases of Covid-19 globally, with 3,110 deaths. 

In the past 24 hours, China has reported 129 cases, the lowest since 20 January, he said. 

The US Federal Reserve has announced an emergency rate cut, as it responds to the growing economic risk posed by the Covid-19 coronavirus. 

In a unanimous decision, the Fed’s policy-setting committee has slashed its key interest rate by a half point to a range of 1.0-1.25.

Earlier today, Japan’s Olympic minister suggested that Tokyo 2020 could be postponed until later in the year as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seiko Hashimoto told Japanese parliament that the government’s agreement with the International Olympic Committee may allow a delay to the Games, which are due to get under way on 24 July and run until 9 August.

She said: “The contract calls for the Games to be held within 2020. This can be interpreted to mean the Games can be postponed as long as they are held during the calendar year.”

The full story can be read here: 

Pope Francis, who is suffering from a cold, has tested negative for the coronavirus, Italian newspaper Messaggero has reported.

With rumours swirling that the pope had come down with Covid-19, the Vatican issued a formal denial on Sunday.

“There is no evidence to suggest a diagnosis of anything other than a slight ailment,” a spokesman told AFP.

Francis was tested for the disease last Wednesday after showing cold symptoms following a period outside in the wind.

ash-wednesday-2020 Pope Francis blowing his nose as he celebrates Ash Wednesday in the Basilica of Santa Sabina, Rome Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

That’s all from the post-Cabinet briefing. 

We’ll continue to keep you up to date with any major developments regarding Covid-19 over the next couple of hours. 

Varadkar has said it was absolutely the right decision to cancel the Italy vs Ireland Six Nations game. 

As of now, there are no recommendations to cancel any large gatherings at this stage over the Covid-19 outbreak, Varadkar has said. 

“We’re not advising anyone to cancel any gatherings at this stage but bear in mind the St Patrick’s Day festival and events are two weeks away and a lot can happen between now and then,” Varadkar said. 

“As of now, we’re not advising anyone to cancel major events or major gatherings such as that, but that could change and there will be new advice published later today and tomorrow on major gathering.”

Speaking of the economic impact Covid-19 could have on Ireland, Varadkar said Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe presented a memo to Cabinet today. 

The memo outlined that the impact would be difficult to predict, but suggests that it could result in a slow in growth in Ireland. However, this would most likely be a blip that would rebound. 

Varadkar noted that this is all speculative at this stage.

Information on mass gatherings will be agreed and issued later today at the Department of Health press briefing, Harris has said. 

He added that all decision will be made “by science, not by politics”. 

Harris added that there is no need for panic, as 81% of cases in China were found to be mild. 

The idea of “hospitalisation” isn’t necessarily the way to go for everyone affected, he said. 

Varadkar has confirmed that a Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 is to meet on Monday. 

Health Minister Simon Harris has said the information is continuing to evolve. 

The sub-committee, chaired by Varadkar, is a good step, Harris said. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said Ireland is still in a phase of containment in relation to Covid-19. 

He said there is a “moderate to high risk” of more cases occurring. 

“A small percentage of those people may get very sick but it is important to bear in mind that at this stage we only have one confirmed cause in Ireland and that case was an imported case,” Varadkar said. 

“So, some of the actions that you see taking place in other countries are not necessary in Ireland at this stage, so there will be no panic but there will be no complacency.” 

Meanwhile, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has criticised the postponement of the Six Nations rugby international between Ireland and Italy that was planned for this weekend, saying the Irish government ‘over-reacted’ in requesting its cancellation. 

The IRFU cancelled the game last week after a meeting with Health Minister Simon Harris and health officials. Yesterday, it was confirmed that other upcoming matches in Paris, London and Rome are still scheduled to go ahead. 

Asked on Sky News today about his plans to attend Cheltenham, O’Leary took the opportunity to criticise the Irish government:

“If it’s on I certainly hope to be there. I was also hoping to go to a couple of Irish rugby internationals but unfortunately the Irish government, I think in an overreaction, cancelled the Italian rugby match in Dublin this week.

“There are still 2,500 Italian rugby supporters travelling to Dublin for the weekend anyway. So canceling the event has not been a sensible are proportionate measure. I’m pleased to see the rest of the Six Nations matches in Twickenham and in Paris are going ahead and I’m very hopeful that Cheltenham will go ahead next week.”

image (1) Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary speaking to Sky News Source: Screengrab/Sky News

Speaking about the wider response to the global virus outbreak, O’Leary said there has been “hysteria” the media coverage and an overreaction among individuals. 

“Look it’s the natural thing, you know people always panic they overreact. You know, if you look at the numbers of people, thankfully even in the UK in a population of 65 million people, what have we got today 51 people who are have confirmed cases, I mean the numbers here are tiny,” O’Leary said.

Yesterday, Ryanair announced that it is cancelling up to 25% of its Italian short-haul flights for a three-week period later this month in response to the Covid-19 coronavirus. 
O’Leary said Ryanair has has seen no-show rates of up to 50% on Italian domestic routes over the past couple of days.

The UK Department of Health has also issued an update on Covid-19 figures for the whole of the UK. 

As of 9am today, a total of 13,911 people have been tested for coronavirus, with 13,860 coming back negative and 51 testing positive.

The Public Health Agency has confirmed that there is still just one confirmed case of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland. 

In a statement on social media, it said:

“In Northern Ireland, there have been 151 concluded tests, of which 150 were confirmed negative, and one was confirmed positive.” 

The UK government today published its plan to deal with the global outbreak. 

The document outlined that it is possible that up to one fifth of employees across the country may be absent from work during peak weeks.

It was also noted that British police will “concentrate on responding to serious crimes and maintaining public order” if significant numbers of officers cannot work due to Covid-19 containment. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was today asked about this step and he confirmed that the army would help police in such a scenario. 

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

As a quick recap, the HSE has said the risk of catching Covid-19 in Ireland is still low but “this may change”. Most people may continue to go to work, school and other public places, as usual.

Anyone who knows they have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days and has symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, fever) should:

  • isolate themselves from other people – this means going into a different, well-ventilated room, with a phone
  • phone their GP, or emergency department – if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999
  • in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999

Close contact means either:

  • face-to-face contact
  • spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of an infected person
  • living in the same house as an infected person

If you have these symptoms and have been in an affected area or in contact with a confirmed case, read this advice.

Good afternoon, Hayley Halpin here. 

Over the weekend, one case of coronavirus was confirmed in the Republic of Ireland in a pupil at Scoil Chaitríona in Glasnevin. 

There has also been a case confirmed in Northern Ireland. More than 100 people in Ireland had been tested for the virus as of last Thursday.

More recent test figures are expected to be released today.

Globally, over 90,000 cases and more than 3,100 deaths from Covid-19 have been confirmed, according to figures from the ECDC.

The Public Health Agency is expected to provide an update on the Covid-19 situation in Northern Ireland shortly. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is also due to provide a post-Cabinet briefing within the next hour. 

About the author:

TheJournal.ie team

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